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A Better Free Form Source Template


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#1 TomH

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 07:10 PM

Give me a template that is easy to use, produces good full and short footnotes without extraneous punctuation, and exports cleanly via GEDCOM to other software!

The built-in Free Form template falls short on Short Footnotes - they are often too verbose - but is best for exporting. The other 413 templates export poorly, in many cases, sometimes none will suit a source, and sometimes have extraneous punctuation that cannot be corrected except by creating a custom template, a duplicate source and merging.

This enhanced Free Form template (named "!MyFreeForm") fixes the Short Footnote shortfall without jeopardising the clean export to standard GEDCOM and lets the user control exactly what is going to appear in the Footnote, the Short Footnote, the Bibliography and the exported TITL and PAGE tags. You can still use the other built-in or custom templates to help draft your !MyFreeForm sources.

Existing Free Form sources merge perfectly, without data loss into a duplicate !MyFreeForm Master Source. A SQLite query can convert in milliseconds all Free Form sources in a database to !MyFreeForm without the drudgery of duplicating Master Sources and merging.

Full details and the downloadable !MyFreeForm.rmst file are available from the SQLiteToolsForRootsMagic4 wiki here. The file is also downloadable from Renee's collection of user-submitted Source Templates on her RM4Templates webpage, #006

Enjoy your new-found freedom from the tyranny of the built-in templates by using !MyFreeForm. The challenge of satisfactorily fitting a source into RM4 has certainly been detrimental to my pace of work and a source of frustration that I am certain many of you share.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#2 TomH

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 07:42 AM

I have enhanced the !MyFreeForm template a little more and discovered one of those classic RM4 'gotchas' for which I can find no solution. I will update the Wiki page and file later today.

The enhancement is the addition of a punctuation field with which you can override the default ", " separator between the source title and the source detail. Some users may prefer a different separator, such as ": " or "> ". While it is easy enough to edit the sentence template, this field allows it to be overridden on selected sources rather than globally. Of course, one could leave well enough alone...

The 'gotcha' is that if you include a period to end a sentence template, I can find no way of suppressing it from the TITL tag on a standard GEDCOM export, which may result in third party software having the separation punctuation between source title and source detail coming out as "., ". The built-in Free Form adds an ending period to all its sentences in reports but does not for export. If an ending period is dictated by all style gurus but should not be included in the TITL export because other software takes care of it in their reports, then why doesn't RM4 do the same for all source templates?! Anyway, it is not an onerous task to edit !MyFreeForm and remove the period prior to a plain vanilla GEDCOM export but it should not be necessary and is easily forgotten. That's a topic for Issues.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#3 TomH

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 07:39 PM

Another 'gotcha' I had not anticipated is from the SQLite global mapping of Free Form sources to the !MyFreeForm template. While everything looks just fine afterward on the Edit Source screen, the short footnote does not come out properly in some, if not all, reports, printing the text "[ShortPage]" instead of the default [Page] value. I developed a second query that fixes the problem in a few more milliseconds. If you have already imported !MyFreeForm and run the first query, please re-visit the SQLiteToolsForRootsMagic4 page to get the second query and run it.

There may be a similar problem with the [Punc] field in !MyFreeForm2 requiring a third query to correct it.

Why RM4 behaves differently in Edit Source and does not give what you see there in its reports is beyond me. :blink:

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#4 TomH

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:58 AM

Summary
  • !MyFreeForm is like the built-in Free Form template with the addition of the [ShortPage] field in Source Details to make succinct short footnotes. The full footnote and bibliography are unchanged.
  • !MyFreeForm2 goes one step further by adding a [Punc] field in Master Source through which the user can enter an alternative character to separate the source title from the source detail in both full and short footnotes, overriding the default ", ".
Free Form sources merge perfectly into both !MyFreeForm and !MyFreeForm2 sources.

Download the source template files for import into your database from Renee's site RM4Templates as 006 and 007, respectively.

For those inspired by the power of SQLite to globally convert all Free Form sources to !MyFreeForm, details are available at the SQLiteToolsForRootsMagic4 wiki under A Better Free Form Template.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#5 TomH

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 10:22 AM

Hold Everything!
I'm afraid I was seeing what I wanted to see and forgot what I knew about how the GEDCOM export works. The way I have set this up, a !MyFreeForm source with both [Page] and [ShortPage] details filled in, with the key value from [Page] plugged into [ShortPage], will export to the PAGE tag both values concatenated with "; " separating them. Thus the key value will be repeated. Oops! :(

So, while I got better Short Footnotes, I've degraded the export. If RM4 exported to the PAGE tag only those Source Details fields that appear in the full Footnote sentence template, then all would be fine (and, BTW, that's probably how it should be because it deconstructs the sentence template to export to TITL - why not the same for PAGE, instead of taking the easy way out).

I'm going to look into a variation of !MyFreeForm where [ShortPage] will contain the key value and [Page] will not, but will have all the other details needed for the first citation of a source. It's getting less free but is the only user solution I can think of that would best meet my objectives: minimal constraints, better short footnotes and good export.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#6 TomH

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:15 PM

:rolleyes: This is it! B)
After much experimentation, I think I have come up with the most export-compatible, short-footnote capable, cleanly punctuated, flexible, easy-to-use source template that one can, given the foibles of RM4.1.2.1. It's called !MyFreeForm3 and replaces all prior versions which had an export issue. More fully described and downloadable at A Better Free Form Source Template.

SQLite stuff in support of global conversion is still a work in progress.

Sorry for the miscues on the earlier version. I'd welcome any feedback after you give it a try.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#7 TomH

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 06:04 PM

:rolleyes: This is it! B)
After much experimentation, I think I have come up with the most export-compatible, short-footnote capable, cleanly punctuated, flexible, easy-to-use source template that one can, given the foibles of RM4.1.2.1. It's called !MyFreeForm3 and replaces all prior versions which had an export issue. More fully described and downloadable at A Better Free Form Source Template.

SQLite stuff in support of global conversion is still a work in progress.

Sorry for the miscues on the earlier version. I'd welcome any feedback after you give it a try.


The page linked above has now been fully revised and expanded, including the SQLite stuff. Here's the table of contents:

A Better Free Form Source Template
Import this Source Template
Using !MyFreeForm3
Guidance on entering data
Compose draft source with other templates
Copy draft citations from Ancestry.com et al
Merging
Global Conversion to !MyFreeForm3
How to find citations needing an improved Short Footnote
Inspecting the Source List Report
An SQLite query showing unparsed Source Details, longest first

If anyone wants to convert all their Free Form sources to !MyFreeForm3 and is not able to do so with SQLite, contact me off-list and we can work something out. Takes only a couple of minutes.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#8 RWells1938

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:23 AM

Tom

I have tried to download your new free form source template. I can get the one from Renee page but the one on your sql page I can't get to download. I am not sure if the one on Renee's page is the latest version.

I would like to give it a try.

Thanks for the hard work.

Roger

#9 TomH

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:26 AM

I have tried to download your new free form source template. I can get the one from Renee page but the one on your sql page I can't get to download. I am not sure if the one on Renee's page is the latest version.

As of this message, Renee's page still has the superseded ones - don't use them. To download from the Wiki page, depending on your browser, right-click on the link and select from the pop-up menu something like "Save link or target as". Just left-clicking on it likely results in the content being displayed in the browser but you might be able to use its File>Save As menu commands to get the same results.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#10 TomH

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:35 PM

:rolleyes: This is it! B)
After much experimentation, I think I have come up with the most export-compatible, short-footnote capable, cleanly punctuated, flexible, easy-to-use source template that one can, given the foibles of RM4.1.2.1. It's called !MyFreeForm3 and replaces all prior versions which had an export issue. More fully described and downloadable at A Better Free Form Source Template.

As of yesterday, Renee's RM4 Templates page has the final version available for download as 006, replacing the prior #006 and #007.

Thanks, Renee!

Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.